Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan

On the afternoon of 25 September 2021, a group of anonymous feminists intervened in the Christopher Columbus roundabout on Paseo de la Reforma Avenue. On an empty plinth surrounded by protective fences, they installed a wooden antimonumenta, a guerrilla sculpture that calls for justice for the recurrent acts of violence against women in Mexico. It was named Antimonumenta Vivas Nos Queremos (lit. transl.Anti-monument We Want Us Alive) and depicts a purple woman holding her left arm raised and with a support on the back that has the word justice carved on it. Additionally, the Columbus roundabout was also symbolically renamed the Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan (Roundabout of the Women Who Fight).

Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan
Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan 5.jpg
The roundabout a few hours after the sculpture was installed
Location
Coordinates19°25′59″N 99°09′17″W / 19.43306°N 99.15472°W / 19.43306; -99.15472Coordinates: 19°25′59″N 99°09′17″W / 19.43306°N 99.15472°W / 19.43306; -99.15472
LocationMexico City, Mexico
DesignerFeminists
TypeAntimonumenta
MaterialSteel (formerly wood)[1]
Height2.3 m (7 ft 7 in)[1] (formerly 1.9 m [6 ft 3 in][2])
Opening date25 September 2021; 16 months ago (2021-09-25)
Dedicated toWomen

The traffic circle formerly honored Columbus with a statue sculpted by the French artist Charles Cordier, which was installed in 1887. The government of Mexico City, led by mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, removed it from the pedestal prior to an anti-Columbus Day demonstration in 2020 under the premise of restoration. Months later, Sheinbaum announced that the statue would not be returned to its original site and that, following a request from 5,000 indigenous women to decolonize the avenue, a monument would be installed to honor them. The project was named Tlalli and proposed a sculpture created by a non-indigenous male artist who drew inspiration from the existing Olmec colossal heads, all of which depict men. Feminists objected to the proposal because they considered that the sculptor unsuited to honor indigenous women, and a few days later they installed their own design on the plinth.

Originally, Antimonumenta Vivas Nos Queremos was not intended to be permanent, with the installers reporting that while the sculpture design could be chosen by the city, the traffic circle should be officially renamed to their proposed name. Since its placement, feminists have organized cultural events at the roundabout to honor all the women who they describe as fighters and men who fight for them and have had their names memorialized on the protective fences, installed a clothesline to denounce the injustices that they have received from authorities and society, and replaced the original woodwork with a steel one. Sheinbaum, on the other hand, has commented that the government of the city is seeking to officially replace the Monument to Columbus with a replica of The Young Woman of Amajac, a Huastec sculpture, and thus relocate the Vivas Nos Queremos anti-monument to another place, an action to which feminists are opposed unless their demands are met.

BackgroundEdit

 
The plinth on which the sculpture of Columbus was located photographed hours after its removal.

The statue of Christopher Columbus in Paseo de la Reforma, one of two Mexico City monuments dedicated to Christopher Columbus, was removed on 10 October 2020 prior to an attempted demonstration to topple it two days later—on Columbus Day.[3] According to the government of the city, it was removed as part of a series of restorations performed by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).[4] Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said public debates would be held in 2021 to determine the future of the monument.[5] However, these were not conducted,[6] and the government of the city decided to replace the statue of Columbus with Tlalli, a large female head statue by Pedro Reyes who was inspired by the male Olmec colossal heads and whose intention was to honor 500 years of the resistance of Mexican indigenous women.[7][8] The city government explained that the removal occurred after receiving 5,000 signatures from indigenous women who asked to "decolonize Paseo de la Reforma".[9]

Tlalli sparked several controversies, including the selection of Reyes, a mestizo male, to represent Mexican indigenous women,[3][10] or its design and name, which were questioned by academics like researcher Lucía Melgar and Mixe writer Yásnaya Aguilar [es]. Melgar said that it was an example of how women and indigenous women are seen as "generic, mute and immobilized" while Aguilar questioned the use of a Nahuatl word (that means land or earth) to name a project based on the Mixe–Zoque-speaking Olmec culture. Because of the controversies, Sheinbaum postponed the installation and announced that a committee would take care of the situation.[3]

HistoryEdit

Installation and descriptionEdit

Leaflets provided by installers
"This place is from now on La Glorieta de las Mujeres que Luchan and it is dedicated to those women who throughout the country have faced violence, repression, and revictimization for fighting against injustice. It is dedicated to the Seeking Women [of their disappeared acquaintances], to the Mothers who fight for justice, to the Women Defenders of Water and Territory, to the women of the Indigenous Peoples, to the Indigenous Students, to the Historical Indigenous Students, to the Historical Women, to the Zapatista Women, Afromexican Women, Women Defenders... To all the women who with their struggles have built our history, the women who sustain this country with dignity".[11]: 120 

During the afternoon of 25 September 2021, a group of feminists crossed the protective fences of the monument and installed on the empty plinth a wooden[1] antimonumenta depicting a 1.9 m (6 ft 3 in) tall purple woman with her left fist raised.[2][12] They used multiple ropes and the existing steel staples fixed with cement to hold it on the pedestal.[11]: 118  The installers referred to the sculpture as the Antimonumenta Vivas Nos Queremos (Anti-monument We Want Us Alive)[13] or as La Muchacha (The Girl)[11]: 116  and symbolically renamed the traffic circle as the Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan (Roundabout of Women Who Fight).[6]

The installation occurred as a protest against the recurrent acts of violence against women in Mexico,[11]: 120  a country that is commonly ranked among unequal and hostile countries for women, according to reports that include those of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Georgetown University's Women Peace and Security Index 2019/20, or the United Nations Development Programme's Gender Inequality Index.[14] During the installation, the feminists asked for the creation of an artistic committee that included indigenous female members to select a replacement under consensus and added that they did not want to impose their choice of a statue, saying, "You decide the figure, we have renamed the roundabout".[6] They further explained that their figure was created to honor those women who have struggled in the country, that is, from "the brave women of independence up to the present day and also those who were killed fighting for justice".[6][11]: 119  As stated by the authors, the project arose after the removal of the statue of Columbus but remained under planning until the announcement of Tlalli. After seeing the various mistakes made by the authorities, they concluded with its organization and installation. During those months, various women's groups surreptitiously planned the placement of the artwork and invited victims and human rights defenders to participate.[11]: 115 

Additionally, while a group installed the Antimonumenta Vivas Nos Queremos sculpture, another one painted the names of murdered and disappeared women on the protective fences, like that of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz.[15] Some names include those of living women who, they say, have resisted injustice.[15] For the action, a preliminary investigation was carried out, including indigenous women, mothers of victims of femicide, historical women, defenders of water, land, life, and women journalists.[11]: 120  The city government covered those names with white paint hours later.[16] Sheinbaum said it was a common action, as cleanup groups are authorized to conduct cleanup works after demonstrations in the city.[11]: 126  The next day, during the seventh anniversary of the Iguala mass kidnapping, a group of feminists returned and painted the names again and added, "You will not erase us".[16] During an abortion rights demonstration on 3 October 2021, the names were restored after having been covered again during the week.[17][18] In addition, the names of men who have fought for women or who have been murdered or disappeared were mentioned and written down.[19][20]

Events after its installationEdit

 
The steel replacement photographed during the 2022 International Women's Day's demonstrations.

On 25 November 2021, the date commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, feminists installed complaints clotheslines where they clothespinned the names of public officials and of institutions that they considered had not followed up on their complaints or had ignored or minimized them.[21] They also sang a protest song there.[22] The next day, male police officers broke the clotheslines and tried to remove the protective fences with the names of the females; when they saw that groups of women were filming them, they repositioned them.[23] On 31 October, a Day of the Dead altar was placed on the main path of the roundabout, where feminists wrote: "México Feminicida" (Mexico Femicidal). They also placed cempasúchil flowers and papel picado sheets with the phrase "Fue el estado" (It was the state) cut into them.[24]

Feminists replaced the original artwork on 5 March 2022 with a steel monument that is 2.3 m (7 ft 7 in) tall in preparation for International Women's Day demonstrations on the following 8 March.[1] Also,the Garden of Memory (Jardín de la Memoria) was set up, featuring another clothesline with 300 complaints and whose goal is "to bear the names of historical women [...] who teach us every day with their struggles that dignity has to be customary".[25][26]

On 24 July 2022, human rights groups symbolically renamed the Glorieta de Colón and Hamburgo stations of the Mexico City Metrobús as the "Glorieta de las Mujeres Que Luchan" and "Glorieta de las y los Desaparecidos" stations, respectively, the latter after the nearby anti-monument of the same name. The signage maintained the style used by the system and the pictograms of the stations were replaced with their protest symbols. The actions are part of the symbolic renaming of Paseo de la Reforma to the Ruta de la Memoria (Route of Memory), in reference to the various anti-monument memorials located on the avenue.[27] On the first anniversary of its installation, various collectives organized several events at the roundabout, such as the installation of a pink cross and photographs of missing and murdered persons, as well as a dance and song performance. The collectives reiterated their position regarding its intended relocation, adding that the place "not only has to do with the issue of femicide and disappearance but the various struggles that women have in the country, namely, the indigenous mothers, the struggle for the defense of land [or] water".[28]

Planned removalEdit

 
The Young Woman of Amajac, the Huastec work of which the city government wants to place a replica on Paseo de la Reforma.

On 12 October 2021, the city government announced that it intended to replace the monument to Columbus with a replica of The Young Woman of Amajac.[29] Three days later, feminist groups urged the authorities to not remove the piece unless the roundabout is formally renamed the Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan. They also criticized that the artwork that is expected to replace theirs is believed to have been a young elite woman or a ruler.[30] The mother of a murdered teenager said that any alteration would be "an act of direct aggression to the demands of justice".[22] By June 2022, Sheinbaum mentioned that the replica of The Young Woman of Amajac was almost complete and that she was in talks with feminist collectives to reach an agreement on the relocation of the main sculpture.[31] In response, feminist groups stated that no such talks had taken place as of August 2022 and claimed that the government only wanted to fulfill a political agenda, adding that "the state wants to hide the fact that 11 to 13 women are murdered each day [and] that more than 30 people disappear each day".[32]

City officials met with representatives of various human rights groups in November 2022 to reach a consensus on the future of the traffic circle. Ricardo Ruiz, Undersecretary of Government, assured that although the requests of the groups are respected, there cannot be an imposition by any party and that the space must be public.[33]: 1:53–2:14  Ingrid Gómez Saracíbar, Secretary of Women, proposed a common agreement to generate a space for coexistence.[33]: 0:59–1:52  Argelia Betanzos, a Mazatec lawyer, commented that the government does not believe that there is a coexistence but in relation to the statues, as she felt that there is already a coexistence of indigenous women in the Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan. She added that The Young Woman of Amajac does not arise from the wishes of indigenous women but rather from an electoral intention on the part of Sheinbaum's team and requested that, before seeking to place a symbol in the name of indigenous people, they should first apologize for the crimes committed against indigenous peoples by the country's governments.[33]: 2:15–2:32, 3:04–3:53  At the event, a letter written by Otomi women was read, requesting that—instead of replacing the anti-monument in Reforma—the city government replace another statue honoring Columbus in the city (Manuel Vilar, 1892) with the sculpture of The Young Woman of Amajac, as they considered that Paseo de la Reforma had already been decolonized.[33]: 3:54–4:40 [34]

ReceptionEdit

Author Sabrina Melenotte noted that the installation roughly "links art, memory and public space" and raises questions on "the role and the legitimate place of artistic and social expressions that serve as monuments".[35]: 312–313  David Pérez wrote for Milenio that the set of protest acts located in the Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan serve to reflect on the recurring episodes of violence and that it serves as a medium that highlights the meaning that is given to the use of memory in response to violence.[36] Carmen Contreras, consultant in gendered urban development, mentioned that the installation follows the line of interventions in the urban space that show that the actions of public institutions do not work and that a change is required to avoid discrimination among citizens in order to achieve justice.[37]

Diana Murrieta, founder of the feminist group Nosotras Para Ellas, wrote in an opinion column in the El Heraldo de México newspaper that the appropriation of public spaces is important to let the women of the country know that equality is achievable as long as actions are performed collectively.[38] Ayahuitl Estrada, founder of the feminist collective Restauradoras con Glitter, said that with such acts feminist women are "changing the discourse imposed by the state of what the representation of vulnerable women should be".[39] In her column for Voces México, art critic Avelina Lésper [es] commented negatively on the artwork and its installation, saying that such actions harm feminism, which society calls unjustified, radical and violent, and asked feminists not to speak for all women because she interprets the appropriation as an act of "ideological, populist arrogance, supported by the propaganda of [social] networks". Regarding the Vivas Nos Queremos anti-monument, she called it an "aesthetic eyesore" that denigrates women in history and demeans them to a symbol similar to the pictogram indicating the women's restroom.[40]

Regarding comments on the government and its position on the anti-monument, Fausta Gantús from the Instituto Mora [es] opined that Sheinbaum avoids recognizing the Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan and instead supports an "officialist feminism", endorsed by the female governors from her political party, the National Regeneration Movement. According to Gantús, this posture only seeks to support the president of Mexico and former leader of their party, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.[41] Scholar Lucía Melgar commented that if Sheinbaum would stop "wallowing in imaginary achievements, repeating empty speeches, and inventing a courtly 'people'" she could learn to respect the space that feminists chose to protest against violence.[42] In her opinion column in SDP Noticias, Claudia Santillana Rivera recommended that Sheinbaum pay attention to the installation because women would not necessarily vote for her if she were the candidate in the 2024 Mexican general election, especially if she does not show interest in resolving the problems experienced by women in the nation.[43]

GalleryEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Ávila, Diana (5 March 2022). "Feministas colocan silueta de mujer de acero en la Glorieta de las Mujeres que Luchan (Video)" [Feminists place steel silhouette at the Roundabout of Women Who Fight (Video)]. Proceso (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 31 October 2022. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Antimonumenta en Glorieta de Colón sí representa a las mujeres indígenas, responde colectiva" [Antimonumenta in Columbus Roundabout does represent indigenous women, replies feminist collective]. SDP Noticias (in Spanish). 28 September 2021. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Mexican feminists install a statue of a woman to replace one where Columbus stood". The Fresno Bee. Mexico City. EFE. 25 September 2021. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
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  5. ^ Alejo Santiago, Jesús; Sánchez Medel, Leticia (12 October 2020). "Cristobal Colón. Monumento, símbolo del colonialismo: López Luján" [Christopher Columbus. Monument, symbol of colonialism: López Luján]. Milenio (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 19 October 2020. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
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  8. ^ Ruiz, Mariana (7 September 2022). "Tlali, el nuevo monumento a la mujer indígena en Reforma" [Tlalli, the new monument to the indigenous woman in Reforma]. AD Magazine (in Spanish). Condé Nast México. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
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  21. ^ "25N: mujeres alzarán la voz en el tendedero #YoDenunciéPero, en Glorieta de Insurgentes" [25N: women will raise their voices at the #IDenouncedBut clothesline at Insurgentes Roundabout (sic)]. Infobae (in Spanish). 5 November 2021. Archived from the original on 6 October 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
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  24. ^ Rangel, Azucena (31 October 2021). "En CdMx, realizan ofrenda para víctimas de feminicidio en Reforma" [In Mexico City, an offering for victims of femicide is made in Reforma]. Milenio. Archived from the original on 5 November 2021. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
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  26. ^ Domínguez, Paulina (13 March 2022). "¡La Glorieta es para las mujeres que luchan!" [The Roundabout is for the women who fight!]. Tercera Vía (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 26 June 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
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  28. ^ Arellano García, César (26 September 2022). "Conmemoran el 1er. aniversario de la glorieta de las mujeres que luchan" [First anniversary of the Roundabout of the Women Who Fight commemorated]. La Jornada (in Spanish). Mexico City. Archived from the original on 14 October 2022.
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  30. ^ San Martín, Nedly (15 October 2021). "Exigen a Sheinbaum mantener antimonumenta de Mujeres que Luchan en la glorieta de Colón" [Demands to Sheinbaum to keep anti-monument of Women Who Fight in the Colón Roundabout]. Proceso (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 19 October 2022. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
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  33. ^ a b c d "Mujeres proponen que la joven de Amajac ocupe el lugar de Colón en Buenavista" [Women propose that The Young Girl from Amajac occupy the place of Colón in Buenavista]. La Jornada (in Spanish). Mexico City. 10 November 2022. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  34. ^ Gómez Flores, Laura (8 November 2022). "Rechazan estatua de joven de Amajac en Glorieta de Mujeres que Luchan" [Statue of Young woman from Amajac rejected in the Roundabout of the Women Who Fight]. La Jornada (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 24 November 2022. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  35. ^ Melenotte, Sabrina (2022). "Remembering Mexico's Missing Persons through Art". In Larzillière, Pénélope (ed.). The Global Politics of Artistic Engagement: Beyond the Arab Uprisings. Youth in a Globalizing World. Vol. 19. ISBN 978-90-04-51844-5.
  36. ^ Pérez, David (13 October 2022). "Cristóbal Colón y la desaparición forzada" [Christopher Columbus and forced disappearance]. Milenio (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  37. ^ Contreras, Carmen (27 September 2021). "La Glorieta de las Mujeres que Luchan" [The Women Who Fight Roundabout]. Centro Urbano (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  38. ^ Murrieta, Diana (10 October 2022). "Las mujeres que luchan y su glorieta" [The women who fight and their roundabout]. El Heraldo de México (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  39. ^ Ríos, Lorena (8 March 2022). "¿Cómo un levantamiento feminista cambió la Ciudad de México?" [How did a feminist uprising change Mexico City?]. El Financiero (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  40. ^ Lésper, Avelina (24 October 2021). "Antimonumenta". Voces México (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  41. ^ Gantús, Fausta (8 March 2022). "Del desdén de AMLO y el interés de Claudia, a las vallas" [From AMLO's disdain and Claudia's interest, to the fences]. El Universal (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  42. ^ Melgar, Lucía (11 October 2022). "Glorieta - Jardín de Memoria" [Roundabout – Garden of Memory]. El Economista (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  43. ^ Santillana Rivera, Claudia (26 September 2021). "Glorieta a las mujeres que luchan ¿contra Sheinbaum?" [Roundabout of the Women Who Fight, against Sheinbaum?]. SDP Noticias (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  44. ^ Alonso Viña, Daniel (12 October 2022). "La batalla para evitar el derribo de la 'Glorieta de las mujeres que luchan'" [The battle to prevent the removal of the 'Women Who Fight Roundabout']. El País (in Spanish).

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit